Top Ten “No-No” Herbs in Plastic Surgery

So you’re going in for a nip ‘n’ tuck to rejuvenate some sagging, drooping whatevers. Good for you! It will help you look and feel better.

But before you go under the knife, here’s a pearl of wisdom. (Not from me, of course; the information comes from some very smart doctors!)

Did you know that taking herbs can cause trouble during your surgery?

Sure, herbs are 100% natural but, hey, so are snake bites! And, to borrow a line from George Carlin, any time you’re talking about snake venom, all you need to know is: it’s bad for ya!

Insider hint: never confuse the word “safe” with “natural.”

Insider hint number 2: no known herb can create a breast augmentation, a face lift or remove fat from your body. But you’ll see tons of ads that promise just that. (Read more about overblown ads in cosmetic plastic surgery).

Turns out herbs are powerful medicines that vary in strength depending on if you consume the leaf or the root and the time of year the herb was picked.


Herb medley
SXC Photo


We mention all this because Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the leading professional journal for plastic surgeons, recently found that 55 percent of plastic surgery patients use herbs while only 24 percent of the general public take them. Read more.

You want to quit any herb at least several weeks before your surgery, according to top plastic surgeons Robert Kotler, M.D. in Beverly Hills and New Mexico plastic surgeon Patrick Hudson, M.D.

Surgeons bellyache because patients often forget to mention the herbs they take, thinking it makes no difference to their medical histories. And then things can get complicated or go south in the operating room (O.R.) when other meds interact with the herbs.

Here’s the list of verboten herbs before your plastic surgery procedure

1. Ginseng

Used to enhance energy levels, ginseng in the O.R. can cause high blood pressure or a racing heart if combined with some of the medicines used by the anesthesiologist. Ginseng can also slow blood clotting.


Sweet herbs
(Bura photo)


2. Ephedra (aka ma huang)

Consumed in many diet aids, ephedra increases blood pressure and, during surgery, may increase it too much when combined with common medicines.

3. St. John’s Wort

Used to treat depression and anxiety, St John’s Wort can prolong the effects of some narcotics and anesthetics. It also interacts with Demerol, a prescription pain reliever.

4. Ginko Biloba

Taken to increase circulation, ginko can cause excess bleeding in the operating room.

5. Feverfew

Often used to treat migraines, feverfew can also increase bleeding during surgery.

6. Garlic

Usually taken to lower blood fat levels, garlic can also cause too much bleeding during an operation.


Garlic chives
(jkingsbeer photo)


7. Licorice

Many people with stomach woes take licorice. But during surgery, it can cause liver problems and water retention.

8. Glucosamine

Consumed to ease joint distress, glucosamine contains chemical elements that mimic human insulin and may cause high blood sugar while you are under the knife.

9. Chondroitin

Often taken as a folk remedy for bone arthritis, chondroitin can cause excess bleeding if combined with doctor-prescribed blood thinning medications.

10. Valerian

Valerian acts as a mild sedative when you take it at home. But in the operating room, it can increase the effect of anesthesia and cause a deeper sleep.

Other herbs often mentioned in the same breath as “surgical complications” include echinacea, glucosamine, goldenseal, melatonin, kava and milk thistle.

Just remember: herbs. It’s bad for ya!

What’s Your Favorite Herb?

NEXT: Top Ten Fat-Sucking Tunes

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